Japan – Please help
In June, 2004 my family visited Japan. We always travel independently as we choose to see and feel the flavor or the areas and countries we visit as opposed to the canned visits. Honestly, we were a little nervous about going independently to Japan though as we neither spoke Japanese nor read the written language. Yet, we have traveled a lot and felt somewhat confident of our ability to get our self out of most situations. So, we went to Japan.
I will tell you with all sincerity that I was overwhelmed by Japan. First it is such a lovely country and the people were so warm and hospitable. They were also very eager to do their job and do it correctly. There were times that we were a little frustrated trying to find the right bus or the right train, but we were always ‘rescued’ by some wonderfully kind Japanese citizen.
We were in the Five Lakes Area which is near Mt. Fuji and it was probably hit pretty hard by the quake as it is near Tokyo. It began raining and since we weren’t able to understand the TV, we had no idea that the rain was to be serious. Pretty soon we learned though. We went to the train station to catch our train to Hiroshima. It was a somewhat small train station by their standards, but rather large by ours. There were thousands of people in the station. We looked at each other in wonder and went to find the track for our train. All of them appeared to be cancelled so we went to the customer service area where a representative spoke limited English. She told us there was a national flood and all trains were stopped nationwide. We were shocked and she said they hoped to get them back running later in the day, but it may be the next day as the major flooding was occurring in the mountainous areas (where the earthquake epicenter was) and many of the trains couldn’t get through. So, we told her we would walk around the station and decide what to do. About an hour later, the young lady took me by the arm and said in broken English that she thought a train may have gotten through, but it hadn’t been confirmed by being added to the board. I have no idea where she got her info. She took me by the arm and escorted us to a track and sure enough, the train was coming down the track. She got us on the train, said it was going to our destination and left. Since it wasn’t announced on the board we were one of only two couples that actually got on the train.
As the train started off, my husband said he thought we were on the bullet train which wasn’t what our ticket was for. However, since it was the only train to get through and we didn’t want to waste our vacation we were willing to pay the difference. We figured it out and it appeared we would be paying an extra $200. per person. Soon the conductor came through our otherwise empty car to get our tickets. When he saw our tickets he said the tickets were for the other train. My husband agreed and said we’d pay. The conductor stood there a few seconds and handed us the ticket back and said ‘That’s okay. We’ll let it go.’ What! This would never happen in the US. What kindness and to a stranger. We never forgot these two kindnesses.
Then there was another day and another train. We couldn’t figure out which one to board as we didn’t have the English translations. It was in a more remote area of Japan. We were talking among ourselves about how we could find out when a stranger came up and again took me by the arm. He led us to a particular track and pointed and said ‘This one.’ How kind. We never questioned his getting us on the right train. In Japan, they just helped those needing help and without any expectations. We boarded the train and got where we wanted to go. Many in Japan understand some English but are reluctant to speak it lest they be offensive if it is misused.
If you are so inclined, please help Japan in their hour of much need. They would help us. You can go to a site of your choosing. Save the children , Salvation Army-Japan Earthquake , Red Cross- Japan Earthquake , Doctors without Borders are just a few. We were so shocked in Hiroshima to hear them say that they don’t blame the Americans for bombing them during WWII but they acknowledge their part in causing the problem. They are a very kind people and deserve our help.
Update: A kindergarten kid named Tuesday was on TV. She asked her mother what she coud do to help the people of Japan. Her mother told her she’d donate some money and she asked ‘What can I do?’ Her mother then asked ‘What do you do best?’ She said ‘I am an artist and I can do some artwork and sell it.’ At this point, she has raised over $300. through her artwork and they have had so many requests for her artwork that they are setting up an Ebay account to auction it for the cause. From the mouths of babes… ‘What can I do?’